On one of our recent visits to North Devon we decided to try The Coach House by Michael Caines. The Restaurant is located at the wonderful Kentisbury Grange hotel near Barnstaple. Although we were only staying in Croyde Bay which is half an hour away we thought we’d book a night at the Hotel as well.
Kentisbury Grange is a restored Grade II Manor House built in 1894 and it sits on the edge of the Exmoor National Park. The House is beautiful, and the grounds are stunning.
The Hotel has an inviting Drawing Room where you can sit and relax. There’s an open fire for the chillier days which would make it perfect for curling up on one of the sumptuous sofas to read a book.
The Hotel doesn’t have a pool or Spa so it’s very much about kicking back and unwinding with walks in the hotel grounds. And of course, enjoying the gorgeous food in the restaurant.
Our Room at Kentisbury Grange
Our room was one of the Classic rooms on the ground floor and was light an airy with sumptuous furnishings in cool calm colours designed by interior designer, Karen Grayand. There were also plenty of modern features such as an iPod docking station and Nespresso machine.
I loved the little touches in the room such as the welcome homemade cookies, the selection of magazines on the side table. There was even a privacy film on the outside of the windows, meaning we could see out but no one could see in, an excellent feature as we were in a ground floor room.
The big bathroom had a large walk in shower and underfloor heating so was nice and warm on the feet. There was the usual selection of miniature toiletries. Although with our growing awareness of the problems that single use plastics are causing to our environment I’m happy to forgo these and use my own. Something for the hotel industry to think about.
The Coach House by Michael Caines
The restaurant is in a separate building which was a former 17th century Coaching Inn. There’s a Loft above the restaurant where you can sit and have pre or post dinner drinks. We enjoyed a cocktail before dinner in the Loft.
Simply furnished the restaurant is well laid out with plenty of space between tables with the dark blue crushed velvet chairs adding an air of opulence to it.
There’s a long glass window running along one side of the kitchen, so you can see the Chefs at work with Head Chef James at the helm.
Tasting Menu at The Coach House by Michael Caines
When I’m eating at a new restaurant I love trying the tasting menu as you get to try such a wide variety of dishes. We chose the 8-course tasting menu with the accompanying wine flight and we weren’t disappointed.
Tasting Menu at The Coach House by Michael Caines
The eight courses consisted of:
Gazpacho – Cervices scallops
Chicken Liver Pate – Rhubarb
John Dory – Aubergine caviar, sauce vierge, parmesan
Rabbit Leg – Nasturtium, pickles, endive
Butter Poached Lemon Sole – Mussels, chive beurre blanc
Local Exmoor – Beef Braised ox tongue, watercress purée, wild mushroom, red wine sauce
Passion Fruit Sorbet – Exotic fruit salad, coconut foam
Banana Parfait – Candied peanut, lime sorbet
The food was stunning and the presentation was faultless. The flavour combinations and quality of the ingredients stood out in the well thought out dishes. The Exmoor beef had a wonderful depth of flavour whilst the lemon Sole was light a delicate.
Alongside each dish we had a paired glass of wine. Unfortunately, I was so engrossed in enjoying the food and wine that I failed to make a note of any of the wines. I do know we had a fresh a lively New Zealand sauvignon Blanc, a fruity Riesling and a high-altitude Pinot Noir from Argentina which is fairly unusual. A gorgeous Bordeaux was served with the Beef, a Sauterne with the Liver Pate and we also had a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc.
The service was excellent, and nothing was too much trouble. The Tasting Menu had a chocolate mousse as the last course and I don’t actually like chocolate, so I asked if I could change it. This wasn’t a problem and I was given a choice of desserts from the A La Carte Menu. I chose the Banana Parfait with candied peanut and lime sorbet.
However, this did cause a problem for the Sommelier when it came to pairing the dessert with a wine. After racking his brain, he decided the combination of sweet banana and sour lime couldn’t be paired with a wine but came up with the ingenious solution of pairing it with a Margareta. The Margareta was lovely, and the pairing worked surprisingly well.
The 8-course Tasting Menu costs £90 per person and the accompanying wine flight is £50 per person, there is also an option of a 6-course Tasting Menu.
Our Verdict on Kentisbury Grange and The Coach House by Michael Caines
We thoroughly enjoyed our one-night stay at the Kentisbury Grange. The staff were friendly and efficient, the hotel was cosy and sumptuous, and the restaurant was wonderful. We’re already planning a return visit for the next time we’re in North Devon.
And, I nearly forgot the breakfast was excellent with a broad selection of cereals, yoghurts, breads and homemade muffins and a great cooked full English.